VW Bug front torsion bars???

atomicjoe23

Well-Known Member
I'm starting to learn about VW Bugs because I think that it will be an affordable way for me to build a simple, affordable, but fun recreational (initially anyway) desert rig and to get into racing.

I have a quick question regarding the torsion leaves in the front end of though. When I see the bugs with the coilovers shocks have they removed the torsion leaves from the torsion bars?

I ask this because as I'm reading "Baja Bugs & Buggies" by Jeff Hibbard it seems that the torsion leaves provide the spring resistance that the coils or leaf springs would normally provide.

This is true correct. . .and so if you run coilovers there's no need for the torsion leaves, but the torsion leaves would be an affordable starting point?

Thanks!
 

Gonzo 5/1600

Well-Known Member
Yes, coilover beam front cars do not retain the torsion leaf packs, they are replaced by a through rod to retain the trailing arms in the beam. For many builds the torsion packs are just fine unless you're demanding high travel numbers, looking for a little more convinience.
 

atomicjoe23

Well-Known Member
How much travel could one reasonable expect out of a torsion leaf front end that would retain it's reliability?

How long would a torsion leaf pack last in the desert if you don't do the cut & rotate pre-loading of the torsion leafs?

Thanks again!
 

Wilson

Well-Known Member
How much travel could one reasonable expect out of a torsion leaf front end that would retain it's reliability?

How long would a torsion leaf pack last in the desert if you don't do the cut & rotate pre-loading of the torsion leafs?

Thanks again!
5/1600 cars use stock dimension components in the front suspension and have about 9 to 10" of travel there. That much travel causes a couple of problems - the torsion packs don't live long when you twist them almost 90 deg., and it's hard to eliminate "bump steer" throughout the whole range of travel. With longer than stock trailing arms, you can minimize those problems. "Coil overs" allow more travel without the torsion pack problems. You'll often see "play cars" with both coil overs and longer than stock trailing arms for those reasons.

Cutting and rotating the adjusters just allows you to add more "preload" than stock (more ground clearance). That doesn't directly affect reliability - that is a function of how much "twist" the leaves see, and that depends on trailing arm length and how much travel you're using.....
 

Gonzo 5/1600

Well-Known Member
Well reliable travel would be dependent on the length of trailing arms but with stock length arms it's possible to squeeze about 10" out of the front. The packs will take a fair amount of twist before failing but longer arms are the only real way to get more travel.

The cut and turn method is generally used to raise (add preload) the front end. It's kinda the old-school method, nowadays most people install adjusters for ease of installation and adjustment. The packs won't last longer in a cut and turned front but the added ground clearance will be better suited to desert driving.
 

TauMau

Well-Known Member
Yo Atomic, if you don't have racing in mind, consider a-arms. You're familiar with them already and when building from scratch (yourself) can actually be cheaper than if going with a race quality beam setup. Just use bushings on the inner pivots rather than heims...that in itself will save you a few hundy.
 

atomicjoe23

Well-Known Member
TauMau. . .got any pic's of your front clip without the nosepiece on?

Might be worth considering, but I'll probably just be sticking with the beams for a while. . .just to get some seat time if nothing else.
 

DailyPedal

Well-Known Member
If you are starting from scratch with all things being new and even, the cost is not that much more for coilovers, through bolts and shocks vs aftermarket leaves (not a lot of choices in brand or spring rates) and smooth body shocks. You will pay more for shocks but less for springs with the coulovers (2in). Plus, depending on arm length and amount of twist, leaves have proven to be less dependable today then in the past...for me, there is no reason to use leaves or torsion bars on any off road car unless you are required by the rules you race under...
but...
if you really want to build on the cheap...then stock dimension (width, length) with gussets welded onto all the stock stuff,(beam, arms, LP carriers, spindles), instead of store-bought arms and all chromolly parts-like 1600 cars were built in the 70s-would be the way to go and be reasonably dependable...VW spindle being the weak link then...
 

atomicjoe23

Well-Known Member
Cool. . .thanks DailyPedal.

I wanted to do as much of the work myself as I could. . .I have a Millermatic 211 MIG machine and I really enjoy the fab work (a tube bender. . .I have access to one now but I want my own and a plasma cutter are next on my shopping list). IN my research so far it looked as though the spindle would be the one area where I would probably be spending money on an aftermarket part for sure. When it comes time to go wider, not anytime soon, I would probably go with the Sway A Way or Wright Place adjustable torsion tubes, but if I go with c/o's as you suggested I wouldn't need either and could just extend the width myself using DOM tubing and my MIG machine. . .so c/o's may save me more money in the long run.

Thanks for your input and suggestions!
 

DailyPedal

Well-Known Member
True...a long time ago, a buddy found out that I was building a baja. I had grand dreams but little cash. He basically asked if I was racing it, I replied "no." Then he said, build it like an old school 1600 car because more than likely, the car would be capable of going faster than I wanted to go. Short wheel base, narrow cars tend to trigger the sphincter throttle control pretty quick. That was a long time ago...still holds true today. It is hard to beat a VW baja bug for cheap fun. We built a few of em for prerunners back in the day with gusseted stock low budget parts and got everywhere we wanted to go. But be forwarned, keep speeds under control, car will do well but get on it and parts bend and break.
Today, those once plentiful used parts in usable condition are hard to come by (link pin spindles, arms, carriers, etc) so the trend is to build it right with better parts from the get go. If that is the direction, then like I said, coilovers are hard to beat since chromoly arms are about the same for any length-coil or leafs (a little cheaper for C/O), then you spend 200 for slats (more for 300m) or spend about 200 for coil springs. A chromolly beam for coil over is actually cheaper than one for leaf springs with adjusters. You do have to add the through rod with coil over but would have to add the cost of the adjusters for leaf spring, (you will need 4 for a wider front end). The biggest cost difference between the two is the actual shock, coil over shocks cost more but that is the only big difference and if anything ever happened, coil over shocks are much more in demand than smooth body shocks.
My advice is to save your money, gusset the stock stuff for now, cruise around for a little while and wait to buy the better parts. Buy a beam, they are cheap for coilover w/o tower, but build your own towers to the chassis. Buy arms and combos since you really don't have the equipment to make your own. And this same advice applies to the back of the car...and don't get me started on trannys and engines...or axles...LOL
For more info, call any of the reputable parts suppliers (stay away from the Chinese junk) for a cost breakdown between coil over and leaf spring and you will see...I recommend Kartek, McKenzies but there are many others...
 

atomicjoe23

Well-Known Member
I can guess what the through rod is, but if you don't mind can you clue me in?

Also, where can you get them from?

Thanks!
 

Gonzo 5/1600

Well-Known Member
I can guess what the through rod is, but if you don't mind can you clue me in?

Also, where can you get them from?

Thanks!
Through rods just retain the front trailing arms in the beam when using coilovers instead of torsion packs, in the stock arrangment the torsion packs retain the arms with grub screws that thread into the arms and engage a dimple in the leaves. Sorry I can't advise on the best supplier of them since we run torsions in our cars...
 

DBMETALWORX

Well-Known Member
Try foddrill motorsports, or woods wheel works.. These are 2 of the oldest manufacturers. Don't know if the wright place is is still around or not.. They both have arms and spindles as well. Anything you need for a beam front end...
 

atomicjoe23

Well-Known Member
That's what I figured they were. . .

. . .thanks for the suggestions on suppliers and I would think that The Wright Place would still be around. . .I've seen some recent mention of them in various threads in the past week.
 
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